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Pork Report: In-N-Out subsidies, TPAC move are wasteful government spending

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(The Center Square) – Nearly $5 million in taxpayer subsidies for In-N-Out Burger, $200 million to move the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and large property tax increases were all included in Beacon Center’s annual Pork Report on wasteful taxpayer spending in the state.

Beacon Center is a non-profit that provides free market solutions to public policy issues in the state. Each year, it compiles a list of what it views as the most wasteful taxpayer spending from Tennessee government.

“From Jackson buying an abandoned strip mall to the city of Bristol paying $5 million to move a summer league baseball team’s stadium a few miles away, there is enough pork in the state this year to feed a sumo wrestling competition,” said Beacon Vice President of Strategy and Communications Mark Cunningham.

Included this year in Tennessee’s decision, first reported by The Center Square, to give In-N-Out burger $2.75 million in taxpayer subsidies to create a regional office in Franklin.

In-N-Out also received a $1.9 million property tax abatement from Williamson County for the office, set to be home to 277 employees in Williamson County at a 100,000-square-foot three-story office, set to begin construction in 2024 and finish by 2026 with a restaurant on the site.

The report also detailed how the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency seized 13 birds from a Nashville woman and charging her with 30 wildlife violations with up to 15 years in prison before the Davidson County District Attorney’s office dropped all charges and called the TWRA actions an “abuse of the law.”

Beacon Center wrote about state public school abuses of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) federal funds and property tax increases including Rutherford County’s 16% increase, a 30% increase in Greene County and a 37% increase in Lincoln County.

So far, Tennessee has given $200 million to move TPAC to Nashville’s East Bank and $300 million more is expected in next year’s budget for the same project.

Jackson, meanwhile, spent $4 million to buy an abandoned strip mall to build a convention center that it has since decided would be too expensive.

Memphis gave $1.25 million in taxpayer funds for Season 3 of the “Young Rock” TV series before it was canceled due to low viewership.

Meanwhile, Charlotte spent $280,000 on engineering plans to install sidewalks around the town square before deciding that the citizens didn’t want the proposed $3.5 million sidewalk project.

Bristol spent $5 million in taxpayer funds to bring the collegiate summer league Bristol State Liners baseball team to Tennessee from Virginia.

The Hamilton County Commission spent $100,000 to review a sinkhole on the property on the McDonald Farm, purchased for $16 million two years ago by the county with no future plans and highlighted then by Beacon Center as wasteful spending.

Knoxville was the final entry in the Pork Report after hiring a third part to conduct its police chief search while trying to circumvent open records laws about the process.

The firm cost taxpayers $43,000 plus an additional $67,000 in legal services to defend the move that Beacon says was intended to avoid transparency.

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